>The following commentary was sent to me by a fellow reader who found it posted over atPolitickerNJ. The commentary was written by NJ State Senate Majority Leader Barbara Bouno.
In many ways, Governor Christie’s “toolkit” to help control property tax increases is a similar smoke and mirror act. Sure, there are several worthy bills among the 30 or so ideas the Governor proposed. The civil service and interest arbitration reform measures we recently passed will certainly have an impact in controlling some of the main drivers of local government spending as employee contracts are renegotiated down the road.
But many of the other proposals will have little to no effect on property taxes in the short or long term. In fact, the administration has failed to produce cost-saving estimates for most of the Governor’s proposals.
Yet the Governor continues to flash his shiny toolkit around as the sole means for helping towns stay within the new two-percent property tax cap about to go into effect.
Because he is hoping his magic act will distract people from the fact that he has failed to address many of the state’s larger woes – stimulating the economy, putting people back to work – while exacerbating the growing divide between the “haves” and “have nots.”
Our jobless rate remains alarmingly high while the Governor has fought to scale back unemployment benefits. He has staunchly defended tax breaks for the state’s wealthiest residents while cutting the Earned Income Tax Credit for our poorest. Increased New Jersey Transit fees, cuts in after school programs and a general lack of job stimulation ideas are all an increasing attack on New Jersey’s middle and lower income families.
Either the Governor is bereft of financial acuity or simply lacks compassion for the working men and women of this state held hostage by the lingering recession.
A clear example of the former is his dumbfounding claim that Moody’s recent municipal bond downgrade is “a great referendum” on his policies because it means we’re “getting our fiscal house in order.” For a governor to boast about municipalities in our state being downgraded which will increase the cost of borrowing is insane especially when his policies have increased the state’s long-term debt obligation.
Everyone will readily admit that property taxes are one of the most pressing issues facing New Jersey. But for our roughly 400,000 residents looking for work so they can afford to stay in their house, or even buy one to begin with, it is crucial that our public policy agenda succeeds in breathing life into our anemic economy.
In order to tackle the broader challenges we face at a state, we need to focus on economic development and job stimulation. This underscores the contrast between the Governor’s agenda and the democratic led “Back to Work NJ” agenda in the legislature.
We have steadily been advancing roughly 30 measures to make New Jersey a more business-friendly state in order to get people back into the workforce. Many of these bills will bring to life real solutions to address the challenges that have been laid out in ongoing conversations we have had with business leaders throughout the state.
Several measures would modernize our business tax codes to benefit in-state based businesses and small businesses, the latter of which I sponsored. Another bill will expand the program that currently offers grants to businesses to help retain and create jobs, a practical, hands-on measure that will actually put people back to work.
Other components of this package seek to provide tax credits to the biotech industry, to encourage upstart companies to locate in New Jersey. And taking a cue from the successful “Georgia Work$” program, we are looking to create a similar model in New Jersey that would provide the critical training residents need to find work in key industries.
Hopefully the Governor will put his magic act on hold long enough to see the merit in these bills and sign them into law. By putting people back to work, we will be able to help people stay in their homes, generate increased revenue, and fund the vital services needed to keep our state moving forward.